Birthplace: Enville, OK
Vernon “Skip” McCain excelled in a big way on a small and overlooked stage. At tiny Maryland State (today’s Maryland Eastern Shore) he produced both winning teams and pro football players with an enrollment of less than 1,500 students. McCain was a humble man, short of stature (5’5”) who never swore or missed church, but produced a big win percentage (.816) exceeding all but eight coaches in the history of the game at the time of his retirement. McCain came to the village of Princess Anne, Maryland from Tennessee State where he was head basketball coach and the top assistant football coach. His friend thought that he was making a mistake, “You will never get any good athletes to come to that unknown school and especially in that town.” McCain proved everyone wrong by attracting and producing NFL stars like Johnny Sample, Roger Brown, Sherman Plunkett and Emerson Boozer. When he arrived at Maryland State he also served as basketball coach and athletic director. He was also a teacher as he served as assistant professor of mathematics. He often visited players in their dorm rooms to check on his players’ school work and was confident in his abilities enough to ask for player opinion on practice and game strategy. He often said, “Not only must you be a winner on the field but in the classroom.” He also passed on his strong faith in God to his players. Skip was also an innovator in race relations as his teams occasionally played all-white teams. Fans of all races attended Maryland State games, regardless of the opposition. Legendary coach Eddie Robinson of Grambling learned that McCain’s teams were formidable. The Hawks won all four meetings outscoring the Tigers 87-20.
University of Maryland Eastern Shore